Friends of Mount Sunapee voices strong opposition to proposed West Bowl development plan
Dear Eagle Times Editor,
On behalf of the Friends of Mount Sunapee, a local alliance of citizens from towns across our mountain region, I write to express our organization’s strong opposition to the West Bowl expansion plan proposed by Okemo/Mount Sunapee Resort at Mount Sunapee.
The Master Development Plan (MDP) and Environmental Management Plan (EMP), as submitted by Okemo/MSR to DRED Commissioner Rose raises many serious concerns including safeguarding the public trust and protecting the regional landscape and the quality of life that so many who live in our area cherish and require.
Our specific concerns include the ethical, legal, and public policy implications of merging State Park land and assets with resort development on private land, the lack of current independent environmental impact studies, and the MDP’s failure to address Okemo/MSR’s build-out plan for the area that could have significant regional impact. We also question the necessity of the expansion when many previously approved projects, from as far back as 2000, have yet to be completed.
The MDP’s five-year snap shot is inadequate. We believe Okemo/MSR needs to submit a revised MDP and EMP that set forth all future proposed expansion on both public and associated private land. It is essential they include all proposed trails, lifts, facilities, parking, utilities, and infrastructure, and any residential or commercial real estate development.
The public deserves a thorough and complete MDP and EMP and a transparent review process that provides for information sharing and additional public forums to address public concerns. For example, what are the implications of creating infrastructure and land improvements that may be potentially reliant on one another? How will DRED retain oversight on privately developed land? How will the expansion be handled at the termination of the lease?
The Friends of Mount Sunapee mission is to advocate for preservation of Mount Sunapee State Park, conservation of the Mount Sunapee highlands and her watershed lands, and continuation of the unique and rural and natural character of our communities. For more information about our organization visit our website at www.FriendsofMountSunapee.org or call (603) 863-0045.
Herbert Welsh led the effort to protect Mount Sunapee’s forested lands and natural environment over a century ago. Now it is our turn. We invite you to embrace the challenge ahead: to safeguard the public trust at Mount Sunapee State Park and ensure protection of our precious public lands for the benefit of all our citizens for generations to come.
Jolyon Johnson, President
Friends of Mount Sunapee